Black From Tula

Black From Tula Ripening on the VineThis is year two for the Black From Tula! I took a different approach with this Russian Heirloom this time and started it last fall. I babied it inside through the winter and started bringing it outside around January, which was mild (60 F) here.

Now, late February is looking good with about 8 tomatoes like this getting bigger and ripening, with a whole slew of flowers on the two plants in the EarthBox.  I am looking forward to an early spring tasting of these wonderful black tomatoes.

Found the Bees

Bees in Ficus Tree

Bees in Ficus Tree

In a previous post, I asked where the bees were. Well, I no longer wonder. They are living in the Ficus tree in my front yard! It’s a big hive, and it’s way up in the tree.

I think they arrived in a swarm last spring. I saw the cloud of bees in the yard, but never saw them land.The tree is very densely leaved, so I failed to notice the hive until this winter as I was raking up leaves.

In Arizona most wild bees are considered Africanized, but these bees don’t seem to pay attention to us or the neighbors. They enter and exit the hive at the top of the tree and fly over the roof of the house during their daily pollen gathering.  That is proving to be a good thing, because my latest efforts at growing things is directly behind this tree in my backyard, so pollination is happening nicely with these girls hard at work.

Tomatoes Do Not Get Rootbound in an Earthbox

I just decided my tomato season had come to an end and it was time to yank the plants. I just thought I would let everyone know that tomatoes do very well in them, and the roots spread quite nicely horizontally. It is a very efficient way to grow things, if you follow the manufacturer’s recommendations and Do Not Second Guess The System.

The Bee Crib Looks Interesting

All over the world, people keep bees using a variety of methods. One that is popular in Africa, and other developing countries, is the top-bar hive. Honey production is lower, but so is the startup cost.

There are some design students in New Zealand that have an interesting concept for a hive like this. It is a flat-pack design that is CNC machined, called the Bee Crib. I can see this being mass-produced and available just about anywhere, for almost nothing. Ikea immediately comes to mind as one of the first places this will show up; due to its flat-pack design, of course.

Since I have a hard time getting bees to stop by my container garden, perhaps I should raise some myself. Now, if only I knew where to get one of these babies.

Scotch Bonnets Were Successful

Just a quick update, which hasn’t happened in forever around here! I thought I would let you know that my orange Scotch Bonnets from Baker Creek actually did pretty well this season until the heat came.

Yes, it involved hand pollination. The few bees that pass by my yard just don’t seem too interested in the little white flowers on the pepper plant. It’s okay, because I have learned that around noon-3p the flowers are ready for pollination which is easy to do with a small watercolor paintbrush. Just wet it, and swirl it around gently on the flowers. Timing seems to be the key.

Tomatoes Ripening

Green Zebra TomatoThe tomatoes have finally started to ripen! Seems I am having a problem with Blossom End Rot on all varieties. Guess next time, I will have to increase the  amount of hydrated lime that I add; perhaps crush some eggshells into the soil. Live and learn.

The Green Zebras are small, but tasty. A bit more “tang” than I was thinking they would have. That’s ok. Still beats what is available at my local supermarkets. Bali Tomato

The Bali variety are ultra tasty, with a good amount of meat in them, while still offering plenty of juice. Great with a bit of salt on them, fresh from the bush. Most are small and flat, but there are a few out there that are getting large. They range from orange to pink to red when ripe. The plant likes to climb, and lots of garden twine is being used to support their efforts.

Fruiting and Blossom End Rot

All varieties have started fruiting. The Green Zebra has perfectly round, well-striped fruit and is doing well. The other varieties are more pumpkin shaped with lots of ribs.

The Black From Tula seems to be having a problem with Blossom End Rot (BER), although it is in the same Earthbox as the Zebra, so it must just be more susceptible to that kind of thing.

All of the plants are getting very big, and have required tying up to both the cage and external sources. That was to be expected from indeterminates.

The suspected mite problem is now gone after a few days of spritzing with soapy water.

Current temperatures are mid nineties.